TLDR: Here are 25 things no one tells you about having a hysterectomy, based on my real-life experience of having a hysterectomy. Open, honest and frank.
Hi, I’m Rachel. I am on a mission to make people having hysterectomies feel empowered.
I do this by sharing my story and real life experience of having a hysterectomy in a positive, lighthearted and educational way.
If you have found this article on things no one tells you about having a hysterectomy you may be thinking about having one.
I had to have my surgery due to borderline ovarian cancer but I am aware that lots of people having them due to painful conditions such as endometriosis.
Everyone’s story is different but I think my summary of things no one tells you about having a hysterectomy will be pretty similar for everyone.
So here we go, I have rounded up 25 things no one tells you about having a hysterectomy. Yep, 25! Surprised me too.
I also have a TikTok on things no one tells you about having a hysterectomy if you want to watch this instead >>
25 Things No One Tells You About Having A Hysterectomy
1. What ‘vaginal cuff’ means
If you are having a total hysterectomy then your vagina will be sewed up and that is called a ‘vaginal cuff’ I wrote lots more on what a vaginal cuff is if you are having a total hysterectomy and your cervix is being removed, it’s worth a read.
2. You might always feel a little sad
It’s been 5 years since mine and I don’t think I have fully got over it. It is a part of you and your body that you are losing and grieving, Even if it was causing you pain (endo girls!) you might still find yourself thinking ‘it’s not fair’ as other people continue life with organs intact.
It’s okay to be sad. Give yourself time to feel this, it will pass.
3. It’s surprisingly empowering
Bear with me here. I think any major life altering event will empower you. It makes you think about what you’re doing, live life to the fullest and question things that aren’t serving you.
Embrace it as best you can. I have taken that to the extreme and started my business Our Remedy, this blog and tried to help empower women who have had a hysterectomy. You don’t need to take it to this extreme but it could be a little wake up call from life, just checking in : )
4. People wont know what to say
The word ‘hysterectomy’ seems to send people inside themselves. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have made people stumble on their words because I have been honest in my response to the dreaded questions ‘you having more kids?’
I read somewhere that there are some things in life that people don’t really have the words for, as they are slightly more unique.
For example, if someone said to you ‘my nan died’ you would understand that, you could sympathise with it. Most people have a Nan and sadly, they do.
Hysterectomies are different. Not everyone has one and it makes people uncomfortable.
You have 2 choices. Keep it to yourself and just don’t talk about it, repress your feelings because it makes others uncomfortable…
…or you could talk openly about it in a matter of fact way, because it is what it is.
I chose to do the second. The more we talk about taboo topics such as this the more awareness there is and the more we breakdown and normalise.
Let’s do the second : )
5. The inability to have children will affect you
I am part of lots of support groups and even people who say ‘I am done having kids’ or ‘I’m too old for kids anyway’ still say they are a little upset about losing their ability to have kids
Personally, I think every woman goes through this, hysterectomy or not. When you enter the menopause you will also enter a period of grieving your ability to reproduce. Hysterectomies just force us to experience that a little earlier
Now for those in my position. I did want kids. I am very sad about the fact I can’t now. I struggled for a long time to even look at pregnant women.
Like any grief it does get easier. Give yourself time and compassion. You have been through something utterly life-changing, you’re entitled to feel sad.
This brings me on nicely to this point though…
6. You can still have children
…just not in the traditional way. I do know that it doesn’t make it okay, trust me, I know this. This is your journey though and where you are meant to me.
Other ways to have children after a hysterectomy are surrogacy, adoption or fostering.
Or you could just get extra close to your sibling or friends kids. Trust me, they would probably really appreciate the break if you ask to have them once a week for a sleepover.
Go be a super aunt!
Personally I am on a surrogacy journey now. It’s difficult but I believe I am meant to be doing this and this blog will feature lots of my journey soon.
If there is a soul out there that is meant to be with you, it will find you. Have faith.
7. You will need supplements
If you had your ovaries taken then you will need to think about starting to take supplements after a hysterectomy.
My top one has to be magnesium which is great for sleep, joint and bone health and overall well being.
I have written a blog on supplements after a hysterectomy which you can read here.
8. It’s less painful than you think
Everyone’s pain tolerance is different, of course, but most of the time the surgery is performed via keyhole which is minimally invasive and has a recovery time of around 5-14 days.
I actually didn’t even need painkiller after mine but the doctor did suggest I take paracetamol even if I didn’t feel like I needed it, so I did do that.
I was back up on my feet pretty quickly after my keyhole hysterectomy. I have had a laparotomy too and if you do end up having one recovering from a laparotomy is much longer, you can read about that experience here.
Stock up on books, TV series and get some comfy cushions on the sofa. Make sure you have lots of support, avoid heavy lifting and take it easy. You’ll be okay : )
9. Be careful about infections
I did not realise how easy it was to pick up infections in the hospital! I did really well in terms of my recovery from my hysterectomy but I picked up an infection which caused me to have hot and cold fevers for around 48 hours.
I ended up getting antibiotics from the doctors but this caused thrush, as my body was all out of balance and it was pretty bad. So then I had that to deal with!
You can be more prone to thrush after a hysterectomy due to vaginal dryness. I find not wearing knickers helps this and taking probiotics. You can get lots of natural remedies for vaginal dryness too.
So there is no saying you will get one but just be aware. Keep washing those hands! Pack some antibacterial hand gel, which is on my list of things to pack for key hole surgery.
You can watch my hysterectomy recovery video on YouTube.
10. You may need a laparotomy
I think most surgeons want to perform hysterectomies by key hole surgery as it is minimally invasive but there is a chance you may need a laparotomy. I was warned prior to mine if they were worried about cancer cells they would have to switch during the procedure.
Check with you doctor what the chances are of this for you, as you will want to prepare as recovering from a laparotomy is different and you’ll need to be prepared.
11. You can cyro-preserve your ovaries
This means keep them frozen. Yep, my one good ovary is on ice in a hospital in London! I discovered this via a facebook support group as I couldn’t preserve my fertility in any other way.
I believe you may be able to make biological children this way, which is why I couldn’t bear it just going in the bin.
Mine was free, but you may have to pay. Worth looking into how it works in your area. Any questions about this feel free to email me [email protected]
12. You should write a letter to your womb
I will include mine here but it makes me cry when I ready it. It was something I really felt I should do though and I am pleased I did. I had to say my goodbyes and express my gratitude for it.
13. Get as much support as you can
Don’t be afraid to accept any help you can. Your main focus should be to relax so if you have a dog to walk and a willing neighbour then swallow your pride and say yes.
Having said this though I have read comments from women worried that they can’t have the surgery as they have no support.
If I was to go through this surgery in the position of having no support I would have made sure I had the fridge stocked up on ready meals, my cushions on the sofa already, a table next to the sofa with the remote on and just tried not to move too much for a few days.
14. Book a beauty treatment in as part of recovery
You deserve to do something for you that makes you feel good. I booked a cut and colour about 5 days after my surgery and didn’t regret that one bit. I needed to do things that made me feel good, womanly and young.
I actually went and got my nipple pierced too as a bit of a F you to not being able to get pregnant/breast feed but that’s another story really…
Just do something that makes you feel good. Nails, hair, eyelashes… you pick!
15. Sex might improve
For some people having a hysterectomy means a better sex life as they had painful conditions such as endometriosis.
Either way you have a slightly new body to explore, so let yourself feel empowered by this rather than afraid.
Treat yourself to some new toys and have fun!
You may find you need lube now, if you do then just make sure it is a water based lubricant.
I wrote lots on sex after a hysterectomy here.
If you do struggle with a low sex drive after your surgery, have a look at ways to increase your sex drive after your hysterectomy.
16. You might age quicker (but might not)
The thing is, you will never know if you age quicker after a hysterectomy because you won’t have the comparison. My opinion is that I have not aged any quicker but I have taken more care of myself, just incase you do age quicker after a hysterectomy.
Eat well, go to the gym and invest in some nice skin creams. You’ll be okay. You can read a little more about rapid ageing after a hysterectomy and see if you think it will affect you.
17. There are different types of HRT
You may be offered HRT, especially if you have your ovaries removed. What you are offered will depend on your circumstances in terms of age and type of surgery.
For example, I was 30 years old when I had my surgery and entered the surgical menopause.
I wasn’t offered the HRT tablets as I would need them for 20 years and they by pass your liver, which isn’t ideal for 20 years. It’s okay if you’re only on them for a couple of years.
You can read about different types of HRT here but one thing I will say is remember if what you are taking doesn’t work for you in any way you should chat to your doctor about this. There is so many different types, there is no need to struggle on if yours isn’t working for you.
18. What to wear after
No one is going to give you advice on what to wear after a hysterectomy because quite honestly if they haven’t had multiple surgeries they won’t know.
What to wear after your hysterectomy will depend on the type of surgery you have.
I have had both laparotomies and key hole surgery and quite honestly have nailed what to wear after both, so you should read this blog.
19. You need to lift weights
Now you are in the menopause you will need to consider weight bearing exercise. This is because it is really important for your joints and bones. You are now going to be more prone to osteoporosis so it is really important.
It is not so much for weight loss after a hysterectomy but if you are worried about that then lifting weights can really help that too.
If you feel like your metabolism needs a boost you could try taking biotin supplements, as biotin helps metabolise fats, carbs and protein and turn it into energy.
20. You might get constipated
When you prepare for your hysterectomy upping your fibre intake should be on your list of things to do. This is so you avoid constipation after a hysterectomy, which can be very painful on your stomach.
21. It’s way more common than you think
Did you know that 1 in 5 women in the UK have a hysterectomy? In the USA it is even more common with 1 in 3 people having one. So just remember, you are not alone.
22. You can’t drive after
You will need to check with your insurance company as to whether you can drive after your hysterectomy. You certainly won’t feel up for it for a while, depending on the type of surgery you had.
23. Your scars will fade quickly
I know it seems scary when you first think about your stomach being cut open and scars appearing on what was once a perfectly smooth stomach.
24. Your appointments might be on maternity wards
This really came as quite a shock for me. A couple of my follow up appointments were on the maternity wards. I asked the nurse about this and she said it all comes under women’s reproductive health. I almost spat my tea out!
Something needs to be done about this really. It’s not fair at all, especially when lots of people are really grieving for their loss of fertility.
25. You might feel depressed
Unfortunately depression is a little more common after a hysterectomy. If you notice yourself feeling depressed after a hysterectomy then just know that there are things you can do, I really recommend you read my blog here and this article as I have been through it.
Take it easy on yourself and make sure you speak to someone about how you are feeling.
I hope this has helped you in some way. I think these are things no one tells you about having a hysterectomy that I wanted to share to help you.
If you have any questions you are welcome to email me on [email protected] I always love to hear from you!